This post from Diabetes Mine caught my eye over the weekend. I’ve read so many stories from the US about diabetes management tools being tied to health insurance. Patients often go through ordeals with their insurance companies in order to obtain the items that I take for granted every day. Insurance is tied to an individual’s employer, which means that a change of job often comes with a change of insurance. A new insurer won’t necessarily cover the same items that the old one did. And becoming unemployed means that individuals often find themselves without insurance and facing hefty medical costs.
In comparison, I have it so easy here in Australia.
You’ve probably seen me talk about the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) a fair bit here. In Australia, this is the vehicle through which most diabetes products are delivered through. It’s funded by the government, and delivered through Diabetes Australia and pharmacy outlets.
When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in hospital, I was signed up to the NDSS straight away. Upon registration, I was able to access consumables like test strips, needles, insulin and pump consumables at a heavily subsidised price. I buy consumables at my local pharmacy, however I can also order through Diabetes Australia and have them delivered to my door. Generally speaking, I’ve never had any major troubles accessing diabetes supplies.
There are a few setbacks. There are limits on quantities that I am able to purchase. As a type 1, I normally get around this by shopping more often and in smaller quantities. If you are a type 2, access is now largely in the hands of a healthcare professional. Continuous Glucose Monitoring consumables are not subsidised on the NDSS. I also feel that there are a lot of barriers to accessing diabetes technology in Australia, too.
Then, there’s private health insurance. I was covered under my parent’s fund until I began working full time, when I then had to take out my own policy. I pay an annual premium to a fund of my choice, which costs me roughly a week’s pay. My package is a comprehensive one, but I can generally tailor them to suit my needs and my budget. Hospital cover ensures that I will be treated straight away if I’m admitted to hospital, and generally most costs associated with hospital care are covered. I can choose services for my plan that I use frequently, such as dental, optical and podiatry, and only pay a small out of pocket cost. Another thing which is pretty sweet for me is that my health insurance will also cover the cost of my pump! An $8,000 device ain’t bad for the small annual premium I pay!
Not everyone in Australia has private health insurance. We also have a system called Medicare, which is funded through taxpayer dollars, and covers emergency hospital procedures and doctor’s visits. But private health insurance offers me peace of mind, and significant financial relief over my medical costs. With a condition as demanding as diabetes, I simply couldn’t live without it.
While I often whinge about the small things, I count myself pretty lucky. It might suck to live with diabetes, but I’m extremely fortunate to live in Australia with it.